1st in Northwest Division
3rd in Western Conf.
GM: Mike Gillis
COACH: Alain Vigneault
$63,040,000 ($2.5M above cap)
Vancouver enters the 2010-11 season with a team that has won the division title in three of the last four seasons and returns in good shape to win it again. After having two consecutive Western Conference semifinal losses to the Blackhawks in back-to-back six game series, the Canucks are ready to move on to the conference finals this year and push for the franchise’s first chance at the elusive first-ever Stanley Cup since their seven-game loss to New York in 1994.
They have a talented enough team, especially since they have the Sedin twins. They finally vaulted themselves to leadership of the Canucks, a year in which one (Henrik) led the league in assists and points. This team has the most balanced set of scorers in the NHL with Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Alexander Burrows, Mikael Samuelsson and Mason Raymond all scoring at least 25 goals. With the talented top six, it’s going to be very hard for opponents to be able to try to shut down the Canucks this year.
The Canucks need to be more disciplined this year, though. Last year, they were the most penalized team in the league and in order for them to really make a push towards another Western Conference title, they’re going to need to stop having stupid penalties that cost disadvantages for their team.
MOST IMPORTANT COG OF 2010: Roberto Luongo (G/ex-captain) – He was just removed as captain to focus more on goalie and because goalies are rarely, if ever, captains of a hockey team. The league had made an exception to its rule in Luongo’s case, and in the end it might be regretting ever having opened that door. This offseason, he rode over 1,000 miles on his bicycle while shedding off 8 pounds to drop from 215 pounds to 207 pounds. That should help him be more mobile in the goalie box. He plays the butterfly very well as a goalie, and is a natural leader, which always helps, even if he is no longer donning the insignia.
KEY ACQUISITION: Keith Ballard (D – trade from Florida) and Dan Hamhuis (D – FA from Nashville) – Yes, two defensive players are the key acquisitions of the offseason because it helps the Canucks’ defensive presence so much. They both have a great skating ability as well as a great ability to handle the puck when it is in their control. They can both utilize those attributes to the offensive game, but use it more for the defensive game, which makes them even more valuable. Hamhuis has a lot of hockey sense and can log big minutes while being used in a shutdown role. Being able to log a lot of minutes each game is going to help give rest to the other players who can’t give the same workload that Hamhuis gives. Hamhuis needs to contribute a little bit more in the offensive zone while also being more physical and utilize his 6’1”, 209 pound frame to his advantage. Ballard is very good in moving the puck from the back end and is also very physical but he needs to learn to when the correct place and time is right to use those big body checks. He does need to work on his defensive zone coverage, though.
KEY DEPARTURE: Willie Mitchell (D – FA to Los Angeles) – While the Canucks added two good defensive players, they lost a solid defensive player in Willie Mitchell to free agency. He is a huge presence and displays great defensive instincts and has great leadership. He loves the challenge to shut down an opponent, which is always a good thing. He is not good when he is in control of the puck, and when he tries to do too much with it he gets into a lot of trouble. He also is inconsistent in the hitting department, a realm in which he should’ve be better at with a 6’3”, 208 pound frame.
KEY YOUNGSTER: Mason Raymond (LW/25 years old) – He is a speedy, scoring winger who lacks enough bulk to win a lot of puck battles, but is very quick on the ice and has good offensive instincts. He is very good at setting up his teammates for them to be able to score, which means that his assist totals should be high. He’s a team player, and that’s always a big attribute to have. He is also very good at scoring goals for himself, so the point totals in seasons shall be high as long as he plays consistently well and stays healthy.
OUTLOOK: This year, I think that they’ll take home another division crown and be able to get past the semifinals this year. Of course, they’ll need scoring balance from their deep set of forwards to get there again. Daniel Sedin was limited last year because he suffered a broken left foot, but at full health this year he will be able to team up with his brother once again to score more points and goals. Luongo will be a better goalie as well, able to focus on tending the net instead of breaking his concentration. In this case the removal of the captaincy away from this player could be a long-term positive rather than a negative. As long as they work on their defensive discipline and stay out of the penalty box, they will be able to make it to the conference finals and could definitely play for the Stanley Cup this year for the first time in sixteen years.
- 52 wins
- 111 points
- 1st in Northwest/2nd in Western Conference
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